Tweetdeck – Worth Tweeting About or RT to Sender?

Tweetdeck

Once upon a time the main use for my mobile phone was to send text messages, it seems like ancient history now but in reality those SMS based times were only just over a year ago. These days my handset has almost totally dropped texting and become a Twitter hub pumping out nonsense Tweets of 140 characters or less to whoever wants to read them. And I’m not the only one. Twitter clients on mobile phones are a very particular thing to each individual, you try a new Twitter app, you become wise to it’s funny ways, making it work in your favour so your Twitter experience is optimised to how you like it. But then one day you say “Enough! There must be a better Twitter app out there for me.” and so you start all over again, learning from scratch. My android/twitter journey has already taken in four apps..

  • Touiteur – Lovely, has the best bird tweet alarm sound but became buggy, wouldn’t always update.
  • Twitter – Official app, nice presentation but bloaty, plus you’re stuck with Twitter’s way of doing things (no old school RT, no multiple accounts)
  • Twidroid – My fav so far, but no free multiple account support (and I’m a notorious cheapskate)
  • Seesmic – Good, but not my favourite, free multiple account support though.

You can sign in to Twitter, Facebook, Foursqaure and Google Buzz (if you're mad).

Tweetdeck is out of beta, it’s been officially released for Android and it’s now that I find myself on my fifth Twitter app (sixth if you count the excellent Gravity app from back when I had a Symbian handset) and hopefully this is my last. First impressions are good, a simple menu to setup Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz* and Foursquare** accounts. Tweetdeck already gets a huge smile from me for allowing multiple Twitter accounts (I currently rock three Twitter accounts, get me) a feature a lot of Twitter apps currently charge for. For the record, the first Twitter account you enter will be set as the default account, you can always change your default choice in the future from the ‘accounts’ screen by long pressing on an entry in your account list.  Integration with Facebook seems solid too, with posts and pictures appearing nicely in your feed to which you can like or comment on. Tweetdeck have promised to work more on this and make Facebook integration ‘deeper’, already it seems good enough so I guess it can only get better with further updates.

The first thing you’ll notice is how blindingly fast things are, screens whiz up & down and left to right in a flurry, it’s a joy to behold. Tweets are displayed with an avatar and user name, with the timestamp shown in the bar at the top of the column. This bar also acts as a ‘move to top’ or ‘refresh’ button depending on your position in your news feed. Selecting a tweet will also bring up information on how that tweet was posted. Thankfully you can now change the text size of your tweets (a feature missing from my beta version) to allow room for more posts at a time on your screen. My main, or ‘Home’, timeline consists of my posts from my default Twitter account and Facebook feed with simple colour coding to seperate the two. Timelines are displayed via columns which you scroll through from left to right, scrolling is quick and fluid which makes using Tweetdeck a very pleasant experience. There’s a flexible choice of what columns you can have and how many, I’ve currently got six columns on the go with no sign of slow down or complication. You also have fairly flexible control over how often each column updates which, if you’re juggling multiple accounts, is very useful. Annoyingly you only seem to be able to manage your default account, so if you want to follow someone with your other twitter account you need to set that as your default account before doing so.

Hey look! It's Android Apt on Twitter. Please excuse the low follower count, we've barely been here two weeks.

Composing tweets is great, you can choose how many accounts you want to tweet from (yes, you can tweet from multiple accounts simultaneously. Aces!), add a picture, add your location or browse through your contacts to add them to your tweet. With RT’s, Tweetdeck gives you the choice of classic RTing or official Twitter RTing, thumbs up for giving us the choice. Sadly there doesn’t seem to be any built-in URL shortening, which can lead to an issue with overlong tweets. In my experience overlong tweets fail to send and there’s no way to go back and edit them, they stay stuck in your notification bar with the option to retry sending them, all you can do is clear the alert and start again. Tweeting pictures is done via Yfrog and there is no option to change to another picture host so if you’re a fan of Twitpic or another service you’re out of luck. In it’s favour Tweetdeck does a great job of handling pictures, select a tweet with a picture link and a preview image will appear. Tweetdeck can even pull a preview image from a Youtube link, nice. Tweetdeck also has a conversation view which is a godsend for keeping track of those back & forth messages between users on Twitter.

When it comes to options there aren’t really any to choose from, compared to other clients which offer a wealth of options Tweetdeck’s approach seems to be limiting but the reality is the opposite. I have found that trusting the app to do want you want seems to yield the best results as it really does hit most, if not all, the marks. It’s as if Tweetdeck is light on options but full of features, there’s so much more to discover but doing so would delay this review by at least another week. If anything a manual would be handy as there are all kinds of functions in there, you just have to know where they are. Tweetdeck is a great app and a recommended download, I am glad to have given Tweetdeck a chance and it has now become my final ‘go-to’ app for Twitter.

…. unless I get that itch again, oh god no!

* I didn’t try my Google Buzz account because.. well, it’s Google Buzz, what’s the point?

** I didn’t try Foursquare either, I’m not on Foursqaure. Nor do I ever plan to be.

Links : Official Android Page, Install via AppBrain

Bottom Line : After just over 24 hours use I am happier with this than any other mobile Twitter client I have used.  Sure, there’s something of a learning curve but it’s worth sticking with this app to unlock it’s full potential. Recommended.

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